Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 613–619 | Cite as

Physical activity, quality of life, and the interest in physical exercise programs in patients undergoing palliative chemotherapy

  • Karin Oechsle
  • Wiebke Jensen
  • Tobias Schmidt
  • Rüdiger Reer
  • Klaus-Michael Braumann
  • Maike de Wit
  • Carsten Bokemeyer
Original Article



Quality of life is of major importance in patients with advanced cancers undergoing palliative chemotherapy. In contrast to the number of studies on physical activity in patients with curable malignancies, data on patients undergoing palliative chemotherapy are scarce.


A total of 53 patients receiving palliative chemotherapy on an outpatient basis were interviewed using three standardized questionnaires within a time period of 4 weeks (Questionnaire for Measurement of Habitual Physical Activity, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire C13 questionnaire, International Physical Activity questionnaire), and a questionnaire regarding patients’ acceptance of a potential physical training program.


Thirty-six percent of the patients still performed self-instructed physical activities during palliative chemotherapy. Patients showed significantly higher values in the “leisure time index” during their malignancy than before (p < 0.01). Significantly positive correlations were found between “work index” and quality of life (p = 0.004), “work index” and physical function (p = 0.02), and “hours of physical activity per week” and quality of life (p < 0.05). A negative correlation was found between “work index” and fatigue (p < 0.05). Quality of life scores were significantly higher in patients with sportive activities ≥ 9 metabolic equivalent (MET) h/week than in patients with <9 MET h/weeks (p < 0.01). Sixty percent of patients indicated that they would be willing to participate in an individually adapted activity training program.


In patients undergoing palliative chemotherapy, a statistically significant positive correlation between physical activity and quality of life could be demonstrated. About two thirds of critically ill patients are interested in participating in training programs.


Physical activity Exercise program Physical training Quality of life Palliative chemotherapy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin Oechsle
    • 1
  • Wiebke Jensen
    • 2
  • Tobias Schmidt
    • 2
  • Rüdiger Reer
    • 2
  • Klaus-Michael Braumann
    • 2
  • Maike de Wit
    • 1
    • 3
  • Carsten Bokemeyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Oncology/Hematology/Bone Marrow Transplantation/Pneumology, Hubertus-Wald-Tumorzentrum, University Cancer Center HamburgUniversity Hospital Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Sports and Exercise Medicine, Faculty for Education, Psychology and Human Movement StudiesUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Clinic of Internal Medicine—Hematology and OncologyVivantes Klinikum NeukoelnBerlinGermany

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